The amount and quality of sleep you get can have a big impact on your mood—those days where you don’t get enough are never quite as good as days where you get the full eight hours—and doctors have long said that sleep can have an impact on your health. And now it seems, according to a newly released research study, that poor sleep can have an impact on women’s heart health. That’s right, women’s, but not men’s.

Inflammation levels rise with poor sleep

Researchers explained that poor sleep “appears to contribute to the progression of heart disease in women by raising their inflammation levels.” And inflammation “is a well-known predictor of cardiovascular health,” said lead author Aric Prather who is a clinical health psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco.

Lack of estrogen may be factor

The study analyzed data collected from almost 700 men and women, whose average ages were 66 and 64 respectively. All participants had previously been diagnosed with coronary heart disease. Researchers said that “among the women, poor sleep quality was significantly associated with increases in markers of inflammation over five years.” Since most of the women in the study were postmenopausal, they hypothesized that lower estrogen levels contribute to poor sleep quality.
Based on this linkage, Prather’s team said, “It is possible that testosterone, which is at higher levels in men, served to buffer the effects of poor subjective sleep quality.”

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